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Big Ten Basketball Projections 2016: Conference Week 6

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Iowa's first loss keeps the title race open for now. With five sure tournament teams and a sixth nearly certain to join them, can Wisconsin or Ohio State make it seven?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week's Results

Bold means an upset (based on last week's projections); italics indicate a road win.

Midweek Games

Wisconsin 82, Indiana 79 (OT) (included in last week's update)
Michigan 68, Rutgers 57
Purdue 68, Minnesota 64
Maryland 74, Iowa 68
Michigan State 76, Northwestern 45
Ohio State 68, Illinois 63 (OT)

Weekend Games

Michigan 79, Penn State 72
Indiana 74, Minnesota 68
Purdue 89, Nebraska 74
Maryland 66, Ohio State 61
Iowa 85, Northwestern 71
Michigan State 96, Rutgers 62
Wisconsin 63, Illinois 55

No major surprises this week; all three "upsets" were in games where the favorite had less than a 60% chance to win. The relatively small number of upsets this season may be because there's more stratification between the top tier and the rest; even on a good day Rutgers isn't going to get within double digits of a top-six team on the road, much less pull off the win.

Conference Projections

All projections are based on my margin-aware ratings; the preseason adjustment has now been removed and all ratings are based solely on this season's results. Ratings based on wins and losses only are available here. Ratings are current through Sunday's games.

Summary Table

Average conference wins and 10+ win percentages are based on game-by-game projections. Championships (outright or shared) and top/middle/bottom tier finishes are based on 100,000 season simulations; ties are not broken accurately but credit is split evenly (two teams tied for fourth and fifth each get credit for half of a top 4 finish and half of a middle 6 finish). I'll start taking a more detailed look at tiebreakers once we're down to the final week or two. Movement in the rank order and in BUBBLECON is noted in the table.

Team Current Avg wins Outright Shared Top 4 Middle 6 Bottom 4 10+ Wins BUBBLECON
Iowa 8-1 15.58 71.37% 89.75% 99.64% 0.36% <0.01% 10.2M-to-1 fav 5
Maryland 8-2 14.00 6.41% 21.10% 93.60% 6.40% <0.01% 28k-to-1 fav 5
Indiana 8-1 12.56 2.13% 7.13% 62.20% 37.80% <0.01% 150-to-1 fav 5
Michigan State (+1)
6-4 12.22 0.03% 0.84% 53.44% 46.56% <0.01% 200-to-1 fav 5
Purdue (-1)
7-3 12.13 0.26% 1.96% 49.93% 50.07% <0.01% 98.55% 5
Michigan 7-2 11.77 0.40% 2.17% 38.86% 61.14% 0.01% 95.67% 4
Ohio State 6-4 9.30 <0.01% 0.01% 1.61% 97.69% 0.70% 42.75% 2
Wisconsin 5-4 9.19 <0.01% <0.01% 0.70% 98.48% 0.82% 39.28% 2
Nebraska (+1)
4-5 7.45 <0.01% <0.01% 0.04% 83.51% 16.45% 4.44% 1
Northwestern (-1)
3-7 7.31 <0.01% <0.01% <0.01% 83.32% 16.68% 1.31% 1
Illinois 2-7 5.41 <0.01% <0.01% <0.01% 16.50% 83.50% 1 in 6300 1
Penn State 2-7 5.27 <0.01% <0.01% <0.01% 18.07% 81.93% 1 in 13,200 1
Minnesota 0-10 1.98


0.02% 99.98%
1
Rutgers 0-9 1.83

<0.01% 0.06% 99.94%
1

There is a remarkable degree of stratification here; six gaps of more than 1.4 projected wins exist between consecutive teams. With Minnesota having 10 losses, both they and Rutgers are officially eliminated from the title hunt. (I'm not completely certain it's mathematically impossible for Minnesota to at least tie for 4th, but the odds against it are probably somewhere on the order of the same person winning the Powerball jackpot several drawings in a row.)

No changes in BUBBLECON this week, but two teams are getting close to warranting an upgrade. I seriously considered bumping Michigan up to 5, but decided against it for two reasons: 1) although their early conference schedule wasn't quite as soft as Indiana's, there is a definite step up in competition level coming quickly, and 2) it just feels wrong to promote someone on the basis of beating Rutgers and Penn State. If the Wolverines manage even a split this week, they'll move up to a 5; lose both and they're still in decent shape but without as much margin for error.

Further down, Wisconsin's getting closer to being a full-fledged bubble team instead of a fringe candidate. As of Monday night, Crashing the Dance already has them 31st out of 36 at-large picks (only one spot behind Indiana); personally, I think this is a bit optimistic for a team that's 13-9 overall with four sub-100 losses (and more than a bit pessimistic for Indiana, despite their comically soft conference schedule to date). At 9-9 in conference, Wisconsin would end the season with 15 losses (14 only if they win the conference tournament to make this moot), and I don't think any team has gotten an at-large with that many losses. If they can get that down to 14, not many teams have made it with that record, but it has happened, usually with profiles that would look fairly similar to Wisconsin's.

Projections by Record

Top Six
Team 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4 15-3 16-2 17-1
Iowa 1 in 2.13 B 1 in 10.3 M 1 in 156,000 0.02% 0.28% 2.36% 11.32% 29.57% 37.95% 18.50%
Maryland 1 in 1.94 M 1 in 28,200 0.09% 1.06% 6.67% 22.23% 36.98% 26.56% 6.41%
Indiana 0.03% 0.64% 4.50% 15.16% 27.70% 28.78% 16.95% 5.38% 0.82% 0.05%
Michigan State 1 in 11.7 M 1 in 125,000 0.03% 0.48% 4.12% 17.83% 36.68% 31.91% 8.96%
Purdue 1 in 29,100 0.11% 1.33% 7.26% 20.64% 31.88% 26.38% 10.75% 1.64%
Michigan 0.03% 0.54% 3.76% 12.91% 24.89% 28.55% 19.70% 7.88% 1.63% 0.13%

Middle Three
Team 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4
Ohio State 0.51% 5.28% 19.36% 32.10% 27.19% 12.29% 2.93% 0.33% 0.01%
Wisconsin 0.03% 0.62% 4.98% 19.15% 35.94% 29.74% 8.41% 1.06% 0.06% 1 in 72,800
Nebraska 0.19% 3.69% 17.27% 31.97% 28.59% 13.84% 3.80% 0.59% 0.05% 1 in 67,900

Bottom Five
Team 0-18 1-17 2-16 3-15 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7
Northwestern 1 in 14,400 0.26% 3.31% 16.93% 37.01% 31.01% 10.17% 1.26% 0.05%
Illinois 0.15% 2.87% 16.73% 35.15% 29.79% 12.32% 2.67% 0.30% 0.02% 1 in 372,000
Penn State 0.68% 5.79% 19.30% 31.98% 27.55% 11.95% 2.50% 0.23% 1 in 13,400 1 in 1.27 M
Minnesota 4.68% 28.42% 38.99% 21.34% 5.72% 0.80% 0.06% 1 in 59,100 1 in 9.07 M
Rutgers 10.31% 30.35% 33.67% 18.74% 5.78% 1.03% 0.11% 1 in 16,400 1 in 552,000 1 in 46.7 M

This Week's Games

All times ET. Odds are based on the margin-aware ratings.

Midweek

Indiana at Michigan - Tuesday, 9:00, ESPN (Michigan 65%, projected margin +3.5)
Illinois at Rutgers - Wednesday, 6:30, BTN (Illinois 66%, +3.5)
Penn State at Iowa - Wednesday, 7:00, ESPNU (Iowa 97.9%, +21)
Maryland at Nebraska - Wednesday, 8:30, BTN (Maryland 81%, +8)
Ohio State at Wisconsin - Thursday, 7:00, ESPN (Wisconsin 76%, +6.5)
Minnesota at Northwestern - Thursday, 9:00, BTN (Northwestern 91.0%, +12.5)

Bye: Michigan State, Purdue

Weekend

Michigan State at Michigan - Saturday, 2:00, CBS (Michigan State 54%, +1)
Rutgers at Nebraska - Saturday, 2:00, ESPNU (Nebraska 93.2%, +14)
Purdue at Maryland - Saturday, 4:00, ESPN (Maryland 73%, +5.5)
Indiana at Penn State - Saturday, 8:00, BTN (Indiana 73%, +5.5)
Iowa at Illinois - Sunday, 1:00, BTN (Iowa 90.0%, +12)

Bye: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State

For the fight for the double-byes, the two Michigan games and the Purdue-Maryland game are the games to watch this week. But the most important game of all might be the Ohio State-Wisconsin game on Thursday; the winner is in decent position to earn an NCAA bid and the loser is probably in trouble.